New Delhi, March 1: Stressing upon the fundamental rights of domestic workers, a well-known economist said Saturday that domestic work was a crucial livelihood
option for millions of women in India and hence they workers should be entitled to “fair working conditions” under international norms.
Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, delivering the second United Nations Public Lecture here, called on India to ratify the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention No.189 that guarantees the fundamental rights of domestic workers to decent and secure work.
Delivering the lecture on ‘The Invisible Workers: Rights, Justice and Dignity for Domestic Workers’, Ghosh said: “No society can survive without the massive
contribution that domestic work makes to the national income”.
Yet it remains largely invisible and undervalued, a reflection of the low value India places on social reproduction, she added.
Ghosh said the ratification of the ILO convention would bring about a complete transformation in the lives of domestic workers and will ensure they have the same
rights as those available to other workers.
“They will enjoy rights like reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and
conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Implementing the Convention will require pressure from below, and all workers need to work together to push for this transformation,” she said.
Noting that domestics are amongst the most vulnerable of workers in India, Lise Grande, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
said: “All workers, including domestic workers have the right to fair working conditions.”
The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data on employment and unemployment reveals that the number of domestic workers in urban areas increased by 68 percent
in the decade between 1999-2000 and 2009-2010.
Domestic work is emerging as a crucial livelihood option for millions of women in the country. While women’s participation in India labour force is amongst the lowest in the world, the country has witnessed a 75 percent increase in women’s domestic work. This has been accompanied by a significant increase in women migrant domestic workers who are particularly vulnerable.